My Amazing Extended Family

If anyone ever stands a chance of truly understanding me, they must know this. In my life, there has rarely been any difference between family and friends. – @Amybhole

My friend Amy penned the line above and I immediately recognized myself. What is interesting is how differently we arrived at this common perspective. She was raised in a Bible-belt “hippie socialist commune”. I was raised mostly by myself.

I am an only child.

There are a lot of stereotypes associated with “only children” and I bristle at most of them because they probably hit a bit too close to home.

I was raised in the country without a lot of kids around so I spent much of my time entertaining myself. I’m a daydreamer with a vivid imagination so my four-wheeler and endless woods became my kingdom. (My childhood is the Faulkner version of Bridge to Terabitha). When I wasn’t alone most of my social interaction was with adults. There haven’t been any kids in my family in over 15 years so I learned to talk with adults. Keep in mind my family gatherings to this day are spirited discussions on politics, religion, and Razorback sports. I mean is there really anything else?

If I wasn’t with family I was sitting at breakfast counters and deer camps with my father and a bunch of old salts. These wonderful white-haired men that would continually give you a hard time but told the best stories and best jokes. I don’t think I knew a single quiet or reserved person till high school.

While being an opinionated daydreaming loudmouth isn’t always flattering I’m most thankful that being an only child helped me realize the value of friends. I take friendship very seriously. Someone once said that if you have one good friend in a lifetime you are lucky. I’m not lucky I’m blessed because I have so many good friends.

They know they are my brothers and sisters. It isn’t about genetics and blood relation it is love, one for another.

Extending my family 140 characters at a timephoto

A little over a year ago I got involved in a local meetup group called #LRtweetup. As more locals were on Twitter we wanted to bring people together to help grow these relationships. I’ve simply exploited this group to meet the most amazing people in the world.

If you aren’t on Twitter let me attempt to explain what you are missing. Facebook is for people you already know and Twitter is for people you’d like to get to know. In 2008 I knew none of these people but through thousands of tweets, meet ups, blog posts, & lunches they are now friends that are part of my daily life.

Sunshine and I are expecting our first child this August and my twitter family hijacked the last tweetup and threw a baby shower for us.

I honestly don’t have the words to express how moved I was by this show of love.

I usually expect Churches or families to throw showers but when friends that have no obligation do it for you it is truly humbling. It wasn’t just the gifts (which by the way were awesome and perfect because they all know me so well) but my friends took their time and money to think of us.

To grasp the enormity of all this you have to know this shower was the result of my friend @jgreghenderson.

I’ve been a bit conflicted when it comes sharing baby updates to this community because while we prepare to celebrate Claire’s arrival I’m mindful of the loss of my friends. Last winter 3 couples, all friends, found we were all expecting our first child. We laughed about becoming Geek Dads together and looked forward to the shared experience. The the unthinkable happened. Twice. Both experienced a loss that only those who have been there can understand. Sunshine and I have been there and it hurts like nothing else and I didn’t want our joy to be a source of pain to my friends.

Then one of those friends threw us a baby shower. When you shake the hand of the man that organized the baby shower knowing he is mindful that we aren’t having a triple baby shower you know you’ve encountered greatness.

I have many people to thank but I’ll never get over Greg’s kindness and grace.

I’ll never get over how many people I’m blessed to call family. Twitter isn’t all that special but the people you meet most definitely are.

To all of you. My heart is full. I am humbled and blessed to have as part of my life.

You are my family. Thank you.